Survivor’s Guilt

Amid the strange hush that seems to have blanketed the world, I feel a certain survivor’s guilt. April rains have turned my cul de sac neighborhood lush and green. Flowers burst from hillsides and on my neighbor’s horse ranch in hues of gold, burnt orange, lilac, blue, red, pink and and white. The birds have returned, all in the same colors. As recommended by quarantine officialdom, I try to get out of the house and walk on most days, enjoying spring. But images in my neighborhood clash with horrifying scenes from New York City: Parks converted to field hospitals. Gowned, gloved and masked hospital workers praying, crying, pleading, exhausted. Orange body bags, each holding a person—someone’s mother, father, son, daughter, brother, sister—no breath now, their lungs destroyed. Outside, refrigerator trucks like modern-day catacombs, lined floor to ceiling with the dead. Existentially, I wonder how I came to be here and not there. Practically, I feel I should be out in the world, helping somehow. I want to volunteer at a food bank, but I’m 57 and a three-year bout with Lyme disease left me immunocompromised. Is it wisdom to stay home, or is that just an excuse? Not sure.

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